Friday, April 25, 2008

Rock for Barack: Deadheads for Obama

On Monday, February 4th, surviving members of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh, Bob Weir, Mickey Hart, and Friends came together to play a benefit show for Barack Obama's campaign and get out the vote for the Super Tuesday primaries. Obama appeared before the band took stage. (check out the vid)
This is my first time being old enough to vote in a presidential election. I was feeling really excited about it for awhile, but then I felt apathetic. Now I am feeling excited again. I think Barack Obama is one of the few politicians I have ever liked. I just want to like him. Even though Concepcion Picciotto, the president's neighbor, told me that he was just like all the rest, I still want to like him. I even had a dream about Barack Obama in which I went to hear him speak and then afterwards he came over to hang out with me and some friends at my dorm room. I decided I wanted to support him after that. Now that I know that the Dead are for Obama, I support him for sure. Is that a bad reason to support a candidate? Actually, I really support Obama because he seems like the most peaceful candidate in the race. Admittedly, I could make a much better effort to be better informed, though.
Although the Grateful Dead family has given their support to different, liberal social issues over the years, they have never openly supported any politicians except Robert Kennedy. I think it is safe to generally characterize the Dead and Dead community on the whole as politically uninvolved. That is not to say that Dead members or Deadheads are apathetic. In fact, most Deadheads probably care a lot about issues like the environment, nuclear disarmament (the tune Morning Dew is about nuclear holocaust), peace, and legalization/decriminalization of marijuana.
Morning Dew:
The tune "Throwing Stones" is about politics. Check out the lyrics here.

Still, the Dead family has hardly ever publicly voiced any outright political support. Furthermore, Deadheads are quite diverse. Many people stereotype Deadheads and think tie-dye, patchouli, long hair or dreadlocks, potsmoking, acid-eating hippies, but they are wrong. Some Deadheads wear suits, some are rich, some are poor, some are junkies, some are clean and sober like me, some are liberal, some are conservative like Ann Coulter
Some Deadheads are doctors and lawyers. There was even a Deadhead who was a Theodore Roosevelt Scholar.

From what I've read and come to understand about Jerry Garcia, he had the mentality of make up your own mind. Do what you choose as long as you are not stepping on the toes of another. He was about music for the sake of music (or in order to reach some higher place) not anything else ie politics. I wonder what he would think about Deadheads for Obama. Would he agree with Phil, Bobby, and Mickey for publicly supporting Obama?

Is Barack Obama waking the Dead? After all, the living members have not performed together since 2004. This question reminds me of the Stephen Colbert video we watched in class: who will get the vote of the white male? What I want to know is who will get the Deadhead vote?


Alien Trucker said...

I think you answered your own question. I know who I will vote for. Barack has to be the one.
Of course I had that figgered out before Bobby, Phil and Mickey went on stage but there are many folks who will be influenced by this endorsement and I think thats good. I know a few Heads who registered to vote for the first time after this concert.

Julia said...

As a strange version of a Deadhead myself, I think it's great to see how musicians and other artists have come out to support and get involved in the election. It truly takes it out of the solely political arena and more into the rest of our lives, and while that can be both a good and a bad thing, it does show me that people are really getting pumped about changing the world and getting involved in that change. I love the Grateful Dead - I think they have many great philosophies and the fact that they share their music for free is great - It is interesting to see what an impact music has had in this election...I wonder if it has ever done so before, from the Dead now to the video that was made about Obama earlier.
Rock on, Jerry! (Even though you're dead)